Previously Published in Inc.
By Ed McLaughlin
Bill Gates, born in Seattle, the founder of Microsoft, is an American entrepreneur.
Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, born in Moscow under Communist rule, is an American entrepreneur.
Elon Musk, born in South Africa, the founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, is an American entrepreneur.
After the most divisive election season in our lifetimes, it’s worth taking a fresh look at what we have in common. One thing that stands out is America’s welcoming atmosphere for entrepreneurs, a hallmark of this great land of opportunity that goes back to the historic beginnings of our nation.
President Obama on October 31 proclaimed November to be National Entrepreneurship Month – though the news was obscured by the pre-election glare. To me, having launched four companies, this celebration of America’s entrepreneurial spirit is a powerful unifying factor as we move forward trying to speed up the economy, boost middle-class wages and ensure that the dream is still alive.
The people most capable of doing this are not the Washington politicians – who nonetheless have the responsibility to make entrepreneurship possible under our laws and regulations, and to see that there is the potential of sufficient rewards for those who risk so much to launch and grow a business.
No, the people who hold the future of the U.S. economy in their hands are those people who take that risk. Giving them the help they need to thrive should be seen by Washington and the incoming administration as the gift that keeps on giving. New business start-ups, if they are well-planned and well-managed, see the growth that creates jobs, pays taxes and provides better lives for their employees and customers.
The entrepreneurs cited above have a lot in common. They began with an idea for doing something better. Google was once a research project by several graduate students to improved Internet search results; Microsoft an idea for giving computers the foundation to perform the multiplicity of tasks we ask of them every day.
The ambitious SpaceX has taken on challenges that NASA never did, including launching reusable booster rockets and landing them, upright, on a barge in the middle of the ocean. Tesla single-handedly turned the world’s auto industry on its head by producing a pricey dream car that runs on climate-friendly battery power.
They are American companies, founded by American entrepreneurs, who may or may not have been born here, but chose the U.S. because of its huge economy and pioneering entrepreneurial spirit.
But along with the marquee names are millions of small companies that are a vital part of our economic ecosystem. Every New York bodega, Iowa farm, Alaskan fishing boat and California car dealer puts it out there, every day, their employees making a living for their families and their owners working their plan to make their venture pay off. It is the American way.
This week the United States elected a new president, a successful entrepreneur who has promised to be a friend to American business. He is not well-liked, even by many of those who voted for him, but people heard that promise and decided to give him a chance.
We must hold Donald Trump to his commitment to increase the opportunities for American business, and urge him never to forget the people who put themselves – and often their life savings – on the line to bring their ideas to the marketplace.
It didn’t matter who won the White House, these entrepreneurs are our future either way. Our new president must smooth their road to success.
Ed “Skip” McLaughlin is the author of The Purpose Is Profit: The Truth about Starting and Building Your Own Business, along with co-authors Wyn Lydecker and Paul McLaughlin. The Purpose Is Profit (Greenleaf Book Group) is available in bookstores now.
Ed McLaughlin is the founder of four businesses and is currently running Blue Sunsets LLC, a real estate and angel investment firm based in Darien, CT. Follow him at @purposeisprofit. Wyn Lydecker is the founder of Upstart Business Planning, where she works with entrepreneurs to develop plans that answer the questions investors ask most often. Follow her at @upstartwyn.